Once upon a time…

… I used to blog.

Sigh. That’s how long it’s been, no? To the small but discerning readership of this blog, apologies. (The best compliments are mutual, yes?) Far too much happened over the last year for me to cope with and blog. A change of workplace, and therefore of residence, the discovery of a hidden ailment … suffice it to say we’re settled and resigned to our lot now. Nothing like a ‘medical condition’ to remind you that life is too short and sweet to be frittered away fretting.   Ergo I shall revive this blog.

While on the subject of revival, if I had to choose the best thing that happened to me last year,  it would be the revival of my vocal cords.  I was 8 and my sister 10 when we were force-fed sangeetham, classical Carnatic music . Thrice a week a dapper old man would calmly disrupt our evening playtime and patiently acquaint us with sarigamas, Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Diskshitar, Annamayya, etc. as we sat crossly-legged, our fingers tapping in time with his, our voices drowning out both him and his sonorous shruthi box.  Four years later he died, and we stopped learning. Thereafter, education, life, a career  silenced the music. Today, with a different teacher, as each geetham and varnam and krithi is quickly and effortlessly revived from deep within my subconscious, I’m awe-struck at how firmly that old man had drilled it all  in. 

But the music is no longer the same. Which is a twistedly metonymical way of saying that I’m not the same.  I find myself looking beyond and beneath the religious and patriarchal content (for which I’ve long held a deep distaste) of these compositions .  (Not that I’m turning religious – that rubicon once crossed is crossed for good.) Rendering Andal’s Thiruppavai,  through Devulapalli Venkata Krishna Sastry’s translation, I find myself trying to understand what it meant to be a woman writing poetry in  the 8th century, trying to look for something essentially feminine in her words, to see what love and devotion and poetry must have meant to her. . .

We never enter the same river twice.

A  great new year to y’all!

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4 Comments »

  1. Apu said

    Great to hear from you after all this while. Hope the health condition has eased up. My own experience with Carnatic music is pretty similiar – although I haven’t taken it up again. I am amazed though when I hear people singing krithis I know, how easily it all comes back.

    One discerning reader (:-) who hopes to hear from you more often here…

  2. gaddeswarup said

    Welcome back.
    Don’t know much about music though my mother used to practice. The only ones I remember her singing ‘rattan’ songs. Nor about poetry . Andal seems different from the Sangam poets (from what little I saw in ‘women writing in India: From 600BC to Present’)

  3. Hey apu:
    Good to see you hear again. And many thanks.

    Swarup garu:

    Andal is one of the 12 alwars (Vaishnava sect) who along with the Nayanars (Shaivaites) helped bring about a revival of Hinduism in south India from the 6th century AD onward, as a reaction primarily to Buddhism and Jainism. This period constitutes the beginning of the Bhakti Movement in south India (which later spread to the north). The Sangam period pre-dates this period.

    Thiruppavai is in fact largely pastoral poetry, containing descriptions of village life, bees, flowers, cows, etc. Nacciyar Tirumoli is considered to be her more mature work, but I’m yet to come across a Telugu translation.

  4. This is a good blog. Keep up all the work. I too love blogging and expressing my opinions. Thanks

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